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2020: The year in pictures, from lockdowns and protests to vaccines and hope

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on what we've been through.

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Sarah Tew, James Martin
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1 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

It's hard to imagine, but 2020 began somewhat unremarkably. For instance, we at CNET headed to Las Vegas to cover the annual Consumer Electronics Show, just as we'd always done every January for ages. 

Little did we know, it would be the last place many of us would travel to, the last time many of us would mix with hundreds and thousands of people, for quite a while... 

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2 of 45 James Martin/CNET

After weeks of increasingly worrisome headlines about the inevitable spread of coronavirus around the world, events like Mobile World Congress -- normally a fixture on CNET's calendar for February -- were canceled. By mid-March, major cities were going into lockdown, and all of CNET was directed to work from home until further notice.

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3 of 45 James Martin/CNET

As cities emptied, the tourism industry came to a halt. Bustling city centers like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf were left desolate.

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4 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Many of us "headed for the hills," so to speak, escaping cities to avoid being trapped in a tiny apartment amid a dense population during a pandemic.  

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5 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Around the country, it was surreal seeing everything closed.

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6 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beloved restaurants converted to takeout-only operations as restrictions descended and business owners grew more concerned.

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7 of 45 James Martin/CNET

There were runs on toilet paper, bleach and other sanitizing products, and even food in some stores. For a while many grocery stores were either sold out or strictly limiting purchases.

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8 of 45 James Martin/CNET

Grocery stores and other providers of essential goods started implementing all sorts of safety precautions, providing hand sanitizer at the door and wiping down carts between customers. As the year went on, these measures were expanded upon.

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The wearing of masks became mandatory indoors in most public places and businesses. Markings on flooring indicated the appropriate spacing for customers waiting in line.

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10 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

The stats on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website were complex, and the data was nonstop. Stuck at home glued to our phones and TVs for the latest information, many became more anxious than ever. 

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11 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

As the coronavirus panic unfolded, it seemed that 2020 was a good year to be an introvert. 

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12 of 45 Laura Martinez/CNET

Many people learned to bake bread for the first time, and some have even stuck with it. Here are two delicious-looking loaves by CNET's Laura Martinez.

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Stuck at home, asking ourselves 'what's happening?' and craving coronavirus news and updates, the world turned to Twitter in a year that our endless scrolling became known as "doomscrolling.".

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14 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Working from home became the norm for all who could manage their tasks online.

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15 of 45 Patricia Puentes/CNET

Of course working from home can be challenging. Here's Patricia Puentes' home Zoom setup for an interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the same day California's skies were eerily orange and dark due to wildfires. 

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16 of 45 James Martin/CNET

With kids "doing school" at home, many parents working from home had to scramble to figure out how to manage all their responsibilities simultaneously.

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17 of 45 Bridget Carey/CNET

CNET's Bridget Carey sometimes relied on "babysitting" via abuela video chats mirrored to the big screen.

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18 of 45 Bridget Carey/CNET

Families had to share special moments over Zoom and other apps. Here you see Carey's daughter hugging the screen after a virtual group birthday song for her special day.

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19 of 45 James Martin/CNET

On the West Coast of the United States, the skies turned orange as record wildfires raged. Smoke shrouded the entire western region, and even carried as far as the East Coast.

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20 of 45 Connie Guglielmo/CNET

Inspired to set out positive messages to their community, lots of people painted rocks and set them out on city sidewalks and in other public places.

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21 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon saw record profits as people hunkered down at home and ordered goods to be delivered more than ever before.

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As coronavirus testing operations slowly popped up around the country, a lot of people were able to finally see if they had the virus or had developed antibodies to it at some point. 

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23 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Although all kinds of gatherings, concerts and sporting events were shut down, love carried on, as this mural in Asheville, North Carolina, asserted.

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24 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

It was a good year for board games and card games.

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25 of 45 James Martin/CNET

We found solace in nature, taking hikes and and enjoying open spaces whenever possible as a break from all the staying at home.

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26 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Lots of people took up gardening and took on home improvement projects they'd been putting off for years. Lowe's and Home Depot reported record sales in the second quarter.

Fueled by worries about supply chains and shortages, and given the time for new hobbies at home, there was also a major uptick in vegetable gardening around the country.

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27 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Throughout the year, we were all urged to stick with mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing to help suppress spread of the coronavirus, and paid close attention to the race to develop an effective vaccine.

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28 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

A stimulus bill was passed, sending $1,200 to individuals, and $2,400 to couples, via online banking or physical checks in the mail.

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As economies around the world struggled to deal with the effects of the coronavirus, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP flourished in 2020. Bitcoin reached a record high price, continuing a rise that began in the early stages of the pandemic. 

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30 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Some people were stockpiling weapons in fear of chaos, should society fall apart or a contested election lead to a "civil war."

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31 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

The Paycheck Protection Program offered everyone from small businesses to huge corporations loans with a 1% interest rate in order to cover payroll for workers they kept on staff over the course of closures due to the pandemic.Still, unemployment has remained high.

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32 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Many citizens had trouble getting their stimulus payment, which had been sent out via ACH payment or as a paper check, depending on how you paid your taxes in 2019.

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33 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Just a few months into the coronavirus lockdowns, the murder of George Floyd was upsetting enough to get lots of people out in the streets for protests, social distancing or no. 

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34 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Though bigger cities saw more intense actions, including some rioting, even smaller cities like Asheville, North Carolina, had well-attended Black Lives Matter protests.

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35 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

After years of heartbreaking videos that exposed police killings of Black citizens, the dam seemed to break and we started seeing a real public conversation around reform and defunding. Messages of support for Black Lives Matter popped up everywhere from murals on small businesses to advertising from major corporations.

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36 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

As coronavirus infection numbers went down over the summer in some areas, many places that had restrictions in place began letting businesses open up, with safety measures in place.

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Some businesses found ways to help keep us distanced in their parking lots.

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Meanwhile, the political climate was amped up to the max. Voting by mail put intense pressure on the Post Office, and there was a while when it seemed like the USPS itself was in jeopardy.

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39 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Desperate for haircuts after many months at home, people made appointments at newly opened salons, and stylists, eager to stay employed, took all the precautions possible to stay safe.

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40 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Interest in various personal protection equipment exploded as folks got back to work with new safety requirements in place. Arguments over the effectiveness of various mask styles revved up online.

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Restaurants that wished to reopen had to do so with limited capacity and/or outdoor-only dining in many locations, which led to a lot of sidewalks and streets looking like this scene in Brooklyn.

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2020 saw an exodus from bigger cities like New York, where many citizens, afraid of the population density and tired of paying high rent while being stuck in cramped apartments, gave up their leases and headed for greener pastures.

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43 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Authorities say that a return to normal life will only be possible once the majority of people are vaccinated. Thankfully, late in the year, vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna earned emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Still, public health officials urge us to continue social distancing and mask wearing in the months ahead, as the vaccines slowly make their way out to the general population.

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44 of 45 James Martin/CNET

In 2020, it seemed like anything unbelievable was now a possibility. The Pentagon released three classified "UFO" videos filmed by US Navy, mystery monoliths appeared around the country and the former head of Israel's space security program said a "Galactic Federation" of aliens is working with the US and Israel.

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45 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

After all the tumult of 2020, one wonders what will be in store for us in 2021. Here's hoping for the best! Cheers to the new year!

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